Senate confirmation hearings for Solicitor General Elena Kagan began yesterday. If confirmed, Kagan would become the fourth woman to sit on the country's highest bench. But before she dons that black robe, Kagan must undergo a week of grilling by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The process of a week-long question-and-answer session for nominees began in 1939. A new study reviewed the hundreds of hours of transcripts from confirmation hearings over the last 70 years and found the process can often produce substantive information indicating the changing of the times. It also shows that women and minority candidates are often questioned more thoroughly and pressed further on their judicial philosophies.
We talk with Lori Ringhand, a professor of law at the University of Georgia and one of the authors of the study. Ringhand says it is likely Kagan will be questioned on her views on civil rights issues and the Second Amendment.